Creative Defenses to Criminal Conduct
(Reprinted from the Mahany & Ertl blog. Please visit our blog for many other informative articles and topics.)
Most everyone understands that under the American legal system, the prosecution must prove a defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of each and every element of the offense for which he is charged. This is called the burden of proof. It's corollary, the defense of failure of proof, is one of many tools that a skilled defense attorney can use to secure a client's freedom.
Unfortunately, many criminal defense attorneys are unimaginative or lazy in their approach to criminal law. One or two perfunctory "form" motions are filed with little or no research or imagination. After the motions are denied - and such motions are almost always denied except in outrageous cases - the case proceeds to a plea or trial.
At Mahany & Ertl, we go well beyond the norm. Every defendant is important to us and every case presents unique opportunities. We do not rest until every possible defense is considered. In many instances, we are on the cutting edge of the law.
Attorneys Brian Mahany and Christopher Ertl have each participated in significant court victories based on government misconduct. Cases where the police or prosecution have violated the law or failed to follow the rules of fair play. Cases in which the court punished the prosecution for its own misconduct.
Many lawyers do not want to "rock the boat" and challenge police officers and prosecutors that they must see on a daily basis. Unfortunately, many more lawyers do not even do enough investigation to know if misconduct exists. They simply accept discovery and evidence as offered by the government.
Misconduct and failure of proof are but two of many potential defenses. Some of the other defenses we consider include:
- ALIBI - For the defense of alibi, the defendant must demonstrate that he was somewhere else at the time the crime occurred.
- SELF DEFENSE - Here the defendant admits the conduct but says he was justified in his actions.
- HOME DEFENSE - Like self defense, this defense argues that the law allows a person to defend his home and property from invasion.
- ENTRAPMENT - Another popular defense and often misunderstood by lawyers and judges. Here the defendant argues that the police went beyond mere encouragement.
- MISTAKEN IDENTITY - Witnesses often make mistakes in identifying the defendant. There are many challenges that can be raised for faulty line-ups or other methods of identification.
- SCIENTIFIC DEFENSES - Science presents many opportunities to cast doubt on the prosecution's theory of the case.
- CONSTITUTIONAL - The Bill of Rights and Constitution contain many protections for those accused of crimes. A valid defense may be available if the defense can demonstrate the statute defining the crime violates the Constitution or that the police illegally obtained evidence or a confession.
- ACCIDENT - The defendant committed the criminal act but did so accidently and without any criminal intent.
- COERCION - The defendant committed the criminal act but only because he was forced to do so.
- CONSENT - The victim agreed to or acquiesced in the defendant's conduct.
- MENTAL DEFECT - The defendant was unable to comprehend the difference between right and wrong at the time the crime occurred.
- INCOMPETENCE - Closely related to mental defect and insanity, this defense says the defendant is presently unable to understand what is going on and therefore is unable to participate in his own defense.
- DOUBLE JEOPARDY - The prosecution is not able to prosecute twice for the same conduct.
- INTOXICATION - Alcohol or drugs made the defendant unable to comprehend his actions at the time of the crime. An involuntary intoxication defense (someone slipped the defendant some drugs) is a much more viable than voluntary intoxication.
- STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS - For most crimes, the police have a limited period in which to bring charges.
- RENUNCIATION - A defense to conspiracy charges if the defendant can show he backed out of the criminal plan or conspiracy before the crime occurred.
- AGE - Depending on the age of the defendant, an argument can sometimes be made that he be treated as a juvenile instead of an adult.
- JURY NULLIFICATION - The jury is free to not follow the law if they believe the law is wrong.
- SELECTIVE OR DISCRIMINATORY PROSECUTION - The prosecution has unfairly singled out a defendant for prosecution.
Come visit us for an unhurried examination of your case. We take our profession seriously and take the time to get to know each and every one of our clients. We take the time to thoroughly analyze our cases and identify every possible defense that exists.